Pioneering New House Building Model To Be Considered
30th July 2010
Highland Councillors are being asked to consider investigating the feasibility of a pioneering new model of providing much-needed affordable homes in the Highlands.
It could see a new build programme of 650 houses over a five year period.
The idea is for the Council to work with a private sector partner to release the equity currently tied up in its Council houses. As houses become vacant they would transfer to the private sector partner in return for a capital payment. The capital would be used to build new houses for let as Council tenancies.
A key point to note is that the Council would continue to allocate, manage and maintain the stock, based on agreed fees per unit to be paid to the council by the partner.
The transferred houses would be relet to applicants on the Highland Housing Register at rent levels pitched between the average council rent and private rents, currently estimated at £75 per week (charged over 52 weeks). The average council rent for the current financial year is £59.76 (over 52 weeks).
Properties would revert to Council ownership at nil cost after 25 years.
Councillor Margaret Davidson, Chairman of the Council's Housing and Social Work Committee, said: "This is an interesting proposition that has come forward from our Housing and Property management team, which allows the Council to release equity on the asset value of council housing becoming vacant to relet to generate funds for new council house building. We estimate this could number 650 over a five year period, The number could be significantly increased if the Scottish Government continues to provide subsidy for Council house building.
"The Housing and Social Work Committee will be asked to agree to undertake and fund a full feasibility assessment on the equity release model as a means to deliver additional affordable housing in the Highlands. We would work closely with the Scottish Government in developing the model.
"We would then come back to the Committee with a detailed business case."
She stressed that addressing the shortage of affordable housing in the Highlands is one of the Council's key priorities.
She added: "Strengthening the Highlands" has a target of 2,000 new affordable homes by 2011. We are on target to meet this commitment, but have identified ongoing high levels of demand for additional housing for rent beyond 2011. Successive Local Housing Strategies have identified the need for additional housing supply as the main strategic issue in relation to housing."
July is Scams Awareness Month and The Highland Council's Trading Standards team is joining forces with Citizens Advice Bureaux to warn consumers about the risks of being caught out. Trading Standards Manager Gordon Robb explained.
The Highland Council has welcomed the clear and unanimous recommendation published in the long-awaited report from the Independent Airports Commission into increasing the UK's airport capacity, that increased runway capacity should be created at Heathrow Airport, London with the construction of a third runway. The Commissions' report stated that "capacity constraints at Heathrow Airport have seen the number of domestic connections decline at the airport over recent years with no daily service operating between Heathrow and Inverness since 1997." It added that "a new runway at Heathrow will enhance the domestic connectivity of the UK, strongly benefitting the regions outside of London and the South East." The Highland Council Leader, Councillor Margaret Davidson (Independent) welcomed the recommendation by the Independent Airports Commission.
The Highland Council has published its notice to tender for ICT Core Services on Public Contracts Scotland website. The scope of the ICT Core Services to be sourced under this procurement are broadly defined as ‚Äėproviding managed technology infrastructure, application systems and desktop services required for the delivery of the Authority's business including educational ICT and online Public Access Services'.
The Highland Council has agreed to invest ¬£2.36 million in repairing the regional road network. The non-earmarked balance of reserves from 2014-15 is ¬£5.928 million.
Councillor Helen Carmichael who represents Aird and Loch Ness Ward was elected as the new Provost and Leader of Inverness and Area today (Thursday 25 June 2015). Nominated by Councillor Margaret Davidson, and seconded by Councillor Jim Crawford, Councillor Carmichael was duly elected at a special meeting of the City of Inverness Area Committee held at Council Headquarters in Inverness.
Eight businesses are the first in Highland to successfully apply for free Broadband Connection Vouchers which will now enable them to boost their broadband to make sure they benefit from new IT opportunities and better productivity. The scheme, which provide grants of up to ¬£3,000 to help small businesses and charities is funded by the UK Government's SuperConnected Cities Initiative and is administered locally by The Highland Council in conjunction with City of Edinburgh Council.
At its meeting on 16 June 2015, the Highland Licensing Board approved the final terms of its Supplementary Licensing Policy Statement on Extended Hours for Special Events of Local or National Significance. This supplements the Board's main Licensing Policy Statement 2013-2016 and will have effect as Board Policy until November 2016, when the main Statement is next due for review.
On Friday 26 June, the Caithness District Partnership will meet in full as part of the arrangements under the Planning for Integration (P4i) partnership between the NHS and The Highland Council. Issues to be discussed will include updates on the NHS redesign of Caithness General Hospital and local NHS staffing.
On Wednesday 10th June 2015 The Highland Council held a facebook chat giving lots of information and advice on what people can do to ensure they are receiving the correct benefits and tax credits, as well as giving handy tips on how to manage budgets and avoid getting into debt. Staff from the Council's Income Maximisation and Money Advice teams spent two hours on facebook answering questions on benefits, welfare, money advice and personal budgeting.
A special meeting of the Council was held this morning to form a new Administration and elect a Leader and senior officer bearers. It was agreed that a Minority Administration of the Independent Group would lead the Council with Cllr Margaret Davidson as elected Leader.
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